Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Social Media Management and Information Governance

The social media landscape today has ballooned to include several different types of platforms from video or photo sharing to microblogs to short posts and activity feeds for all. With all of this newly introduced communication software, there becomes an increasing amount of data and data risk.

There are three layers of information governance involved with social media use within official organizations. Read on to learn what these layers are and what can be implemented within your organization to keep data compliant with legal, organizational and regulatory policies and procedures, as well as keeping data safe and free of risk.

Social Media Security

Organizations, including small and midsize businesses, non-profits, corporate enterprises, even governments, are no doubt being inundated with automatic cyber-attacks, hacks, spam, phishing scams, DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and other forms of electronic malware. Much of this malware also no doubt comes from social media use. Interestingly though, many organizations are not prepared or putting effort into scanning this content for malware stemming from social media use.

Short links distributed through tweets, wall posts and other forms of communication are generated by bots that are designed to appear human online, though they are not. The information gathered through deploying these bots can be devastating for an organization. Imagine that employee clicks on one of these links and critical business information becomes vulnerable to automated information harvesting.

This information can be used in a variety of ways including business or government espionage, theft of important customer or internal financial information, theft or distribution of important trade secrets like research or prototypes and illegal or compromising use of other critical data.

There are tools that can scan this content and monitor user behavior to ensure secure communications. One of the tools that can manage social media is HootSuite.

Social Information Archival

The archival of information is obviously important for any kind of enterprise or organization. Data can become stockpiled or deleted immediately on social media sites, depending on their own policies for data retention.

If an employee or member creates a piece of content that was deleted, there must be a way to retrieve when and why the content was removed. It may come up in a legal matter at some point (continue reading to see Social Media Information Policy).

Screenshots of content or documentation of social media activity are a couple of ways that this information may be monitored or recorded. Some kind of record needs to exist. A simple log may not suffice, depending on policy or regulations. Businesses with a supply chain, product or other third party scenario may need to refer to this information for business practices or other reasons effecting third parties or partners.

Social media insights can also be gained through tracking content and activity over long periods of time. Research into social use over time can enable organizations to become adaptable to market conditions, laws, disruptions, customer expectations, business practices and a broad range of other areas important to organizations using social tools and sites.

Social Media Information Policy

Organizations are more heavily burdened by legislation, regulation and threat of legal action or litigation than ever before. To complicate matters, the amount of information is growing ever more rapidly. As old data becomes archived, exponentially larger volumes of data are being produced. This trend is not going to slow down anytime soon. Just take a look at the massively growing market of cloud storage and computing services on the market. So how can we ensure that social media use follows guidelines?

It starts with auditing content, campaigns and procedures to ensure legal, regulatory and organizational compliance. Look at content to see if there are vulnerabilities. You don’t want users posting content that can lead to insider trading, for example. Trade secrets and confidential customer or supplier information must also not be distributed to the public, for another example.

These are just a couple of ways that this kind of media use can harm or injure the credibility, profitability and even viability of an entire enterprise. Information handling policies must be both set in stone for things that will not change (corporate responsibility, for example) and things that will change or evolve over time (product marketing, for example). Some things will in fact change quite rapidly, while others will be a little slower moving.

After the audit, the next step is to ensure enforcement. Not only management, but every single member of the organization must first understand that these policies are important and then see to it that they are being followed. Monitor all onsite or virtual network use and the use of social on those systems. Let users know that their activity is being monitored to dissuade them from engaging in the risky behavior to start with. Remember that the average employee spends nearly an hour engaging in social media use at work.

There are various risks associated with this activity. Employees must both know the risks associated but also understand that there will be no tolerance for non-compliance with these policies. Disciplinary action is at the discretion of each organization.

Implement the Layers Proactively

Remember that the sooner your organization starts implementing these layered tasks, the better. You don’t want to be comfortable today and sorry tomorrow for not realizing the mistake of complacency. Make sure that everyone is on-board at all levels to ensure the smoothest possible transition into security protocols, policies, procedures and use of tools and software.

People are often afraid of change or resistant to do things that require patience or more work on their end. You may be able to alleviate some of those pains from them, but ultimately everyone must be responsible for the information they produce, gather and distribute.

All this being said, social media is a great tool for boosting productivity as well as marketing efforts for most organizations, so don’t be afraid to use social media, just use these precaution measures first.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Converting Knowledge Into Content

Many of us have grown accustomed to referring to our work email accounts to find that bit of information that we received from one colleague or another. Now you discover you need that information quickly to finish a project.

Where is it? If you have faced this similar situation, it means that the amount of data and its applications have grown more complex. It also likely means that you and your organization are too loosely exchanging important information and have lazy knowledge management practices in place. This is not meant to be insulting, of course. It is simply a way to understand how to improve the process.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, big data has come to encapsulate the work we do now. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a place to cleanly and robustly organize all of the information that we come across. Well, content and knowledge management policies and programs will help you to achieve this. Read on to learn how.

Where is knowledge?

Knowledge is everywhere. In your business or organization, it is likely fostered through learning and growing and experiencing the flow of the market and the culture. Each member, employee, manager, stakeholder and so forth has a different level of that experience, giving each of them unique knowledge. That knowledge is usually transferred through the relationships among staff via verbal exchange and electronic (email, memos, research notes, etc.) and hard (paper documents) means.

This is where our knowledge lives. But as it lives in the minds of the personnel and in fragmented pieces in various formats, how easily are organizations able to attain that knowledge and deploy it efficiently to achieve goals? It must be converted, therefore, into unified content and implemented with policies, procedures and strategies. So how do we do this?

Identify knowledge and outline a plan for documentation

Now that we know where our knowledge lives, we must formulate some type of plan to extract this information. At each layer, the process may be different. It might depend on your industry, your culture and things of this nature. In any case, the main point is to identify the information, record it and put it somewhere, preferably into a centralized system that makes use of taxonomy (see blog posts on taxonomy).

At some stage, this may require you to hire a technical writer or some other documentation specialist that can interview subject matter experts in your organization to get the detailed information that will serve as your organizations knowledge base. This person can identify with processes, components, procedures, policies, records, archived data, intellectual property, financial data, secure data and a broad range of other information that must live in an environment where the appropriate members or users can access it later.

In terms of legal matters or legal information, many regulations have information handling requirements that are rigid and may require that you have certain pieces of critical information readily available to audit. Knowledge management and content management are more important in this scenario than ever. Information audits can be done to sift through organizations’ data including email, memos and other documents to make sense and make use of them.

This process of making an audit of information and knowledge is an important first step, but the next step is just as important. You must now organize the information that you have so that it can be easily found by the right people.

Centralizing your converted knowledge and content

Documents stored as files in a simple network drive will no longer suffice as the volume and complexity increases. It is also a security problem. In the cloud environment, there are backups and options to monitor and distribute storage and speed. This makes converting knowledge into content easier when a content management system is deployed to quickly and efficiently handle all of that incoming information.

The type of content management system your organization will or should deploy depends very much on how the information will be used. It might turn out that you don’t use just one CMS. You might end up using multiple CMS options or configurations for different types of content or information. Of course sensitive information and information meant for the public should be handled differently and therefore should be managed differently.

Popular newsfeed or blog platforms include Drupal and Joomla. Oracle handles various IT and other types of content systems. There are systems like SharePoint that help users collaborate on word processing, spreadsheets, charts, presentations and other kinds of documents. There are hubs where users can go to find or share information with other colleagues within the company or organization.

Of course it is always important to take some time to think about security and access privileges and develop information handling policies and procedures within the company.

Make content searchable and organized

After the information has been properly disseminated and you found the right vendor to store and manage that content, you can begin the critical process of organizing it. Usually, within a content management system, we talk about taxonomy. Taxonomy is the process of categorizing or “tagging” content to make it searchable and displayed properly in results or views for the user. Tagging content within a content management system is an integral part of enabling the user, whoever that might be, to quickly locate bits and pieces or entire batches or wholes of information quickly and efficiently.

You must ultimately decide how to organize content in terms of how it will be used. Web content for the public, for example, may need to be audited for its SEO quality (how easily can it be found by search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.). Your internal search systems, glossaries, thesauruses, style guides, policies, manuals and so forth will only be as good as their databases and program functionality as defined by the organization. Try to audit these systems for usability and continually try to improve the way information, both simple and complex, should be handled by internal systems.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Collaboration Tools

Project management, idea generation and content organization is becoming an important element of general business practice in today’s information economy. There are several tools to get the job done and here we look at several different options but each has its own unique feature sets and configuration options for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises.

Project Management Meets Information Handling

Businesses need tools that will help them in their never ending quest for relevant information. Whether it is a small business with a small network, a midsize company with growing sets of data or an enterprise with both growing data and archived data, collaborative tools, apps or other software can help organizations meet the demands of handling complex or large volumes of information sufficiently. Project managers need tools that will help them enable their team or teams to work efficiently. An efficient workflow for that team might mean that they will need tools to communicate, share files, work from different locations in real time or analyze data in some way.

The cloud and big data have evolved over time together and they will continue to do so. Ensuring that your organization is employing a carefully constructed set of security policies and procedures, using cloud apps and other non-cloud or software configurations within your network (maybe a hybrid) will allow your organization to be flexible and powerful enough to grow revenues because an efficient workflow will allow you to save time, money and resources.

You may eliminate the need for paper, for one. But the real benefit for your organization is the need to improve the information handling ability. Finding content easier within a content management system (CMS) certainly helps, but finding the most relevant material and being enabled to put that content to use immediately is the real benefit.

When members of your organization are enabled to perform these tasks quicker, easier and more collaboratively, that is when the real work takes place. In fact, you will also notice more innovation, success and overall team involvement once that essential workflow is improved within your CMS and within your information governance policy (another topic discussed within this blog and website). Project managers will be happy. Those working on the project will be happy. All other stakeholders will be happy with the results you can now bring to the table.

The Right Collaboration Tools and Solutions for the Job

As previously mentioned, there are many tools to get the job done, but the focus here is on the best in collaboration and workflow management solutions that will help to move your business in the right direction – toward profits!

So, let’s take a brief look at what is currently available on the market to collaborate on projects. We will start with the paid big enterprise systems and move our way down the shelf to the options for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Some of the least expensive and free options that are on the market may be sufficient but will lack the functionality, reliability, and support that paid project collaboration solutions provide.


It is well worth watching the two minute video on the Huddle website. The Huddle collaborative system for project management, workflow and communication in real time is an industry leader for enterprise apps of this kind.

Huddle is a cloud-based app that allows users to work on various types of documents, track progress and delegate in a modular, modern interface that can update in real time so multiple users can work on a project at once. Huddle offers a secure space to distribute workloads.


SharePoint is by far the most widely used tool for collaborating on complex enterprise projects. SharePoint is a Microsoft product so it does have good support and can be used on a wide variety of machines, devices and networks and also works in the cloud. It can be extended with Yammer, a social network that allows your organization to create a social network or hub where users can connect and share ideas and plans with one another. It also integrates with OneDrive, Microsoft’s flagship cloud storage. There are also other apps to extend SharePoint for more configuration, functionality, and customization.

With SharePoint, users can administer projects and easily integrate content from their Microsoft Office apps. Like Huddle, SharePoint users have a secure environment to work and collaborate. The maintenance is automated for minimal downtime.


SAP seems to a bit different. Still an enterprise solution provider of collaborative apps for business, SAP tailors their solutions for specific industries such as aerospace, defense, banking, consumer products, engineering, construction, technology, energy and others. Their software comes pre-configured based on their professional evaluation of various industry needs. They also provide solutions for SMBs. Some of their solutions include analytics, cloud, big data, customer relationship management (CRM), security and others. Their business suite helps organizations deal with their content, share with others and create custom workflows for their operation. Pricing seems to be tied to the specific solutions provided by SAP.


Their motto is “coordinate anything” and that is what you should be able to do with great project management and collaboration tools for your business. They offer their product to companies of any size but the enterprise will find many solutions tailored to their needs. They use an easy to understand dashboard with plenty of toolbars and customizable viewing and working options. It also integrates with other common platforms, making it a perfect fit for most corporations.

Google Drive and other cloud platforms

There are a number of different options for cloud storage including Google Drive, but that is not all these options offer. You can also connect a number of free (usually limited but upgradeable) apps designed to collaborate on projects. If you are using databases, spreadsheets, documents or other commonly available software, you could also design your own project management systems for use in the cloud. Make sure you use plenty of security precautions and set permissions. You should have a secure and private data policy for this. Google also offers Apps for Business and integrates its tools for use with companies.

By using any of these tools, you will help your company become more efficient. Take your time to look at each one of these software options with your IT department to ensure compatibility, proper cost to benefit ratio and other factors. Using a consultant to help you to navigate this new road of information security, inter-operability, and shared access is a logical step to ensure policies, procedures and programs are implemented properly.